Investment in healthcare, efficient resource utilisation solution to Nigeria’s inequality, says Gates
He, therefore, advocated concerted efforts to fight global inequality to ensure that no one was left behind, stressing that the worst inequality in the world today is children dying from preventable causes.
He charged governments across the world to prioritise and invest in education, nutrition and health, especially primary healthcare.
Gates, who stated this during a conference call on his annual Goalkeepers report card on world progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said his foundation has invested over $15 billion in projects relevant to Africa and would spend more in the future.
He described the inequality gap in Nigeria as quite stark, stressing that if Nigeria among other developing countries were serious about the SDGs, they should accelerate the fight against geographical inequality.
Gates observed that inequality feeds the vicious cycle of poverty and sicknesses, adding, “More efficient investment in primary healthcare could help break the cycle.
“Primary health care is by far the most important health delivery system in the world. A strong primary health system reaches everybody including the poorest and most vulnerable.
“As governments invest more in primary healthcare systems, overall health outcomes improve. Some governments prioritise advanced healthcare for minority citizens, forcing the majority of citizens to pay out of pocket to meet their basic needs,” he said.
Gates argued that a major challenge in Nigeria is that the amount of money government raises domestically is quite small compared to other countries, stressing that with adequate investment in primary healthcare and efficient utilisation of resources, the country could tackle its inequality.
“A lot of countries at that level will be raising closer to 15 per cent of GDP and Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world down at about six per cent.
“And so, it is a huge challenge that when you want to fund infrastructure, health, education, all those things, that over time tax collection, the domestic resources are going to have to go up quite a bit. ”
“That’s a long-term effort and I think partly by making sure the current resources are spent well like on primary healthcare, you gain credibility that the citizens will say, they want more of those things.
“If we don’t raise the quality, you can get into a trap where they don’t feel like paying the taxes actually has that much impact, and so they’re not supportive of that.
“I do a regular phone call with six governors in Northern Nigeria to talk about the statistics on their primary healthcare system, getting the workers there and vaccine supply right,” he stated.
He added that Nigeria was an important country and one in which the foundation has an office.
“If I had one wish for Nigeria, it would be that the quality and funding of primary healthcare system would achieve the level of some other countries that are of lower-income but have done a better job with their primary healthcare system. So, it definitely is doable,” he said.
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